Vegans protest LA restaurant after they added meat, dairy to menu

A local business owner says protesters have been harassing and overwhelming her Los Angeles restaurants after they added meat and dairy to a menu, that was previously only vegan.

Owner, Mollie Engelhart, says they added meat and dairy to the menu at Sage Regenerative Kitchen & Brewery about a month ago. Since then, pro-vegan demonstrators have picketed inside and outside their two restaurants in Echo Park and Pasadena.

"We have a right to decide and grow and change our opinion," said Areta Holish, regional manager for Sage. "We figured [a vegan menu] is not the best option for the planet, for the soil, to exclude animals from the circle."

The protesters can be seen on cellphone video inside and outside the Echo Park restaurant location holding signs and blasting whistles. The most recent protest took place on Father’s Day.

"They have just been relentless," said Engelhart.  [They’re] putting 1-star reviews on Google and Yelp.  Anything they can to try and put me out of business."

According to Engelhart, they were forced to close early on Father’s Day because of the protest. She also says they tried calling 911, but it didn’t help.

"The police never showed up," said Engelhart. "They drove past a couple of times, put their sirens on, and sped off."

Restaurant workers have been recording the protests on camera. In one instance, one of the demonstrators explains why they’re targeting the local small business.

"It’s not personal," the protester explained on camera. "It’s not about targeting small vs big business. It’s about picking something we can win, right? As we work our way up."

Some customers Thursday were eating at Sage to show their support.

"To come in and disrupt business, it’s just sad to me," said Lindsay Chi, a customer.  "If people are upset by the changes she’s made, they have the ability not to eat here."

A local restaurant that survived the pandemic, now facing off with protesters who want them shutdown.

"I’m a vegan chef from Los Angeles," said Engelhart. "I’m an organic farmer, I’m an employer. I’m everything California should want. I think we have to heed the warnings when people like me are getting up and leaving, that something is broken. If we don’t fix it soon, it will be broken beyond repair."